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Sullivan Award Goes to Pitcher Jim Abbott

March 08, 1988|Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand and became the first U.S. pitcher to beat Cuba in Cuba in 25 years, was named winner of Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete Monday.

Abbott, 20, of Flint, Mich., plays for the University of Michigan and led Team USA last summer, with an 8-1 record and a 1.70 earned-run average, to a silver medal in the Pan American Games.

As a sophomore at Michigan last year, he started 15 games and finished the season with an 11-1 record. He was also named the country's outstanding amateur baseball player in 1987 by the U.S. Baseball Federation.

Other Sullivan Award finalists included hurdler Greg Foster, former Navy basketball star David Robinson, volleyball player Karch Kiraly, synchronized swimmer Tracie Ruiz-Conforto, wrestler Mark Schultz, boxer Kelcie Banks, gymnast Scott Johnson, wrestler John Smith and swimmer Janet Evans.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, holder of the world heptathlon and co-holder of the women's long jump records who was last year's winner, made the announcement.

"It's just incredible," said Abbott, who became the first baseball player to receive the award. "I just thought I was coming here for a dinner and to meet some of these other athletes."

The award carries no monetary reward and an athlete can only win it once. More than 2,000 voters participated in the national voting to select the winner from among 10 finalists.

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